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[Page 453]

Remnants of the
Community in Europe



Poland is our native land. At present, only three people born in Strzyzow live there despite the fact that almost all Holocaust survivors returned to Poland immediately after their liberation. Also, those who returned from Russia, except one who arrived in Palestine from Russia via Teheran, passed Poland on their journey to the wide world. In general, they did not stay too long in Poland. The majority liquidated whatever there remained to be liquidated and hurriedly left illegally. Some tried to establish themselves and left a little later or waited for a more comfortable way to escape into the Displaced Persons Camps in Germany. Only Joseph Weinberg became a communal activist.

As I wrote in the article “The Holocaust and the Aftermath”, he was active in helping his brothers in Auschwitz, according to the testimony of eye witnesses. Joseph Weinberg began his activity before the end of the war soon after he had jumped from a death train which transported the Auschwitz inmates west to places that were not yet liberated.

In February 1945, Weinberg became the head of the Jewish Committee in Upper Silesia which was re–occupied by the Polish and Soviet Armies. His main task was to protect German Jews and half Jews from mixed marriages who had suffered from the Nazi and, who now, when they came out from hiding, were pursued by the Soviets who considered them to be Germans. He established an old age home and children's home and, in 1945, he illegally transported all the children via Romania to Eretz Israel.

For this activity, which was in opposition to the official policy of the Polish government, he was fired. But it did not stop him from being active. Together with Rabbi Kahane, the Chief Rabbi in the Polish Army, he founded the Union of Religious Communities in Poland and served as its leader until 1946, when he left Poland.

During that period, Joseph Weinberg was also active in discovering and redeeming Jewish children from gentile hands and, beginning at the end of 1945, he shipped them to England and to Sweden.

In the action of rescuing children, he was helped by our landsman, Menachem Mendel, the son of Zalman Diamand from Wysoka near Strzyzow. Menachem Diamand who had arrived earlier and settled in Katowice where he worked and lived before the war knew the system of the temporary Polish rulers. He also helped individuals who arrived from Russia penniless and were without a roof over their heads. The three people who remained in Poland were: Dr. Chaim Frenkel, a lawyer; Dr. Eisner, the son of Yacov Eisner and Dr. Abraham, the son of Israel Adler, a grandson of the assistant Rabbi, Alter Ezra Seidman.

Dr. Frenkel, whose wife and daughters were taken away while he was at work, left Poland after the war and reached Constantia in Romania to make Aliyah to Eretz Israel. There he changed his mind even though in his youth, while he had studied in the university, he was an active Zionist.

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He realized that he was getting on in years, did not speak Hebrew, etc. At the end, he returned to Poland and his adopted Polish name of the Nazi period. At the beginning, he was successful in his law practice, helping the returnees liquidate their properties and now, if he is still alive, he probably lives a denigrated life like the rest of the remaining Jews in Poland.



Once, Germany was the second destination of emigrants after the United States. After the rise of Hitler, almost everyone left. A part was expelled to Poland and concentrated in the Zbonszin camp on the Polish border. In that camp, Menachem Manes Friedman's wife died.

Later, all the refugees in that camp dispersed throughout Poland and a few families came back to Strzyzow, their birthplace. A few families came directly from Germany to Strzyzow. They all perished in the Holocaust. The rest of the people who immigrated to Germany came to Eretz Israel, or immigrated to the United States, South America, France and a few children to England. A few families remained in Germany. There was also a case in which the husband escaped to Palestine leaving behind his wife and children having no idea that the Nazi would annihilate innocent people and surely not women and children. Their names are on the list of martyrs in this book. From those who remained in Germany, only one person survived, Yechezkiel, the son of Nathaniel Schlisselberg. He went through Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Scheinbeck, Oranienburg and others. His son was sent before the war to England with a group of Jewish children. His wife Chana, née Rubin and daughter Freda perished in the camps.

After the war, people from Strzyzow appeared again in Germany. These were survivors from camps, those who came out from hiding and those who came back from Russia. The way to the free world was through the German Displaced Persons Camps. The camps were administered by our own people. Many Jewish parties became active again. Especially outstanding was Shlomo Diamand who became a member of the Central Committee of the Mizrachi and Hapoel Hamizrachi. Munich became the central place for all displaced persons and for all active Zionist parties. Munich was also the capital of the American Occupational Forces. Shlomo Diamand was also a member of the editorial staff of the party gazette: “The Yiddishe Shtimme”. Unlike in Poland, none of the people from Strzyzow remained in Germany.

I am informed that at present, two or maybe three families whose origin were from Strzyzow, now reside in Germany. One is Dr. Elchanan Lehrman, the Chief Rabbi of West Berlin and professor of Roman philology and its Jewish influence in Wurzburg. He is a grandson of Reb Moshe Krantzler and, in his childhood, he was raised in his grandfather's house. He succeeded in developing his talents after immigrating with his parents to Germany. After completing his many studies, mainly Jewish knowledge, he lectured in the universities of Lucerne and Bar Ilan. He also served as Chief Rabbi of Luxemburg and was made an honorary citizen by the Duchess. Thanks to his many books and articles about Judaism which were well received

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by the critics, he reached his present position. His wife is a writer and polyglot who manages the Language Department in the European Parliament which is located in Strasburg–Luxemburg. A second man from Strzyzow is Yekutiel Zalman (Sali) Feit, the son of Samuel Feit, a scholar who was the son–in–law of Yechiel Rosen. About the third man, I have no clear information. I only heard that he lives in Dortmund alone and discreet about his Jewishness. His name is Mendel–Max Laufer, the son of Reb Chaim Laufer from Strzyzow.



Few people from Strzyzow live in England. Moshe Yacov, the son of Michael Leib Last and his brother Abraham live there with their families. Hada, the daughter of Leib Eisenberg and Bat Sheva Weichselbaum, the daughter of Alter Yacov, also live there. They settled there before the war. Some say that Joel, the son of Yacov Greenblatt, escaped from Germany to the United States and afterwards immigrated to England where he now lives with his family.



A few families from Strzyzow lived in this country until World War II. Moshe Mussler worked as a Hebrew teacher in the Tachkemoni School. He later brought over his brother Joel and his sisters, Sarah and Leah. They got married and lived there until the Holocaust. In addition to the Mussler family, David Goldberg with his family and a relative, Shlomo Turteltaub, also lived in Belgium. Furthermore, the son of Joseph Hersh, Joel Rosen and Yacov Itzhok Weber, a son of one of the rabbis from Brzozow who married the granddaughter of Pearl Gertner from Strzyzow. One of the anomalies in Galicia from the days of the rift between the Hassidim of Sandz and the Hassidim of Ryzhin–Sadigora was that such a little town like Brzozow had two rabbis; one general rabbi and the second especially for the Sadigora Hassidim. Joel Mussler and his sisters, Joel Rosen with his wife and Yacov Weber with his family all perished in the Holocaust. However, David Goldberg and his son Joseph died of natural causes.

At present in Belgium the rest of the Goldberg family reside, as well as Chaim Last and Leib, the son of Pinchos Adler, a great–grandson of the assistant rabbi Alter Ezra Seidman. Some say that Shlomo Turteltaub who escaped to the United States returned to Belgium. How they are doing there I don't know. Also, it is unknown to me if other people from Strzyzow live there.



To France, only a few single people immigrated. In 1930, Kalman Yacov Schiff arrived there when he returned from his unsuccessful voyage to Brazil and brought over his entire family. Later, his brothers Berish and Mordechai followed him. Then, a few immigrated directly from Strzyzow

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And also some people from Strzyzow who had lived in Germany came to France after Hitler's ascendance to power. Finally, a few survivors of the Holocaust and refugees who came back from Russia settled here. Just before World War II and even during the war, many of our brothers came to Eretz Israel. Of those who remained, a few perished in the Holocaust and some survived in France and Switzerland. During the Vichy rule in France, my teacher Moshe Nuremberg passed away and lately Eisik Mintz. Nathan Hasenkopf, the son of Reb Chaim Hasenkopf, the grandfather of the translator of this book, survived the Holocaust with his family by being hidden by a farmer in a rural village. Nathan Hasenkopf passed away recently but his wife and his daughter Nicole live in Dijon, France. His son Maurice with his wife lives in Israel. At present those residing in France are: Madeline Bren, née Mintz; Joseph Groskopf and his wife Leah, née Brauner (she recently came to Israel); Joseph Weinberg; Shlomo Wilner from Lutcza near Strzyzow; his brother–in–law Hirschfeld; Yechezkiel Winer; Reisl née Landesman; Yechezkiel Nuremberg with this sister; Menachem Mendel Kandel–Nuremberg with his sister; Esther Schneider; Eliyahu Yehuda Kanner; Pinchos Schimmel; Berish Schiff; and the children of Kalman Yacov Schiff. The people from Strzyzow in France are not organized but they keep close, close than those in the United States because the country is smaller and the majority live in Paris. Menachem Kandel–Nuremberg helped us to distribute this memorial book. I have no information on their social or material status. They seem to be average people. Outstanding among them is Joseph Weinberg who succeeded in business and is participating in Jewish communal life and Zionist activity. At the beginning when he arrived in Paris after the war, he was General Secretary of the Zionists and editor of its newspaper. Since 1965, he has also served as General Secretary of the German concentration camp inmates. He has published books in Yiddish and French on subjects of the Holocaust.



There are only three families from Strzyzow origin who reside in Switzerland. Mrs. Hena Riger–Lichtig from the Weichselbaum family and her daughter Rosa and family. Despite her old age, Hena Riger is very active in charitable institutions and also supports Yeshivot and charitable institutions in Israel. During World War II, Helen Hindler, the daughter of Yacov Langsam from Strzyzow, the translator's sister, found refuge in Switzerland with her husband after having escaped from Vienna. After the war, they immigrated to the United States and settled in Los Angeles. Also residing in Switzerland is Moshe Yacov the son of Reb Yeshayahu Mandel who at one time divided his residence between Italy and Switzerland. He visits his relatives in Israel annually and he enjoys the Israeli atmosphere which he lacks in his strange land.

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There were some people from Strzyzow, survivors and returnees from Russia who stopped temporarily in Italy on their way to the Holy Land, but none of them settled here. Most of the people made Aliyah and the rest immigrated to the United States. At present, only one man from Strzyzow lives here: Dr. Menachem Goldberg, the son of Fishel. He studied medicine in Italy when the war broke out. He became a member of the Italian Anti–Nazi underground and survived the Holocaust. Goldberg came to Israel but went back to the country where he had lived for so many years.



Almost nowhere in the old Austro–Hungarian Empire did people from Strzyzow reside except in Galicia and Vienna. One of my cousins lived in Hungary in the town of Munkatch. Chaim Kalb remained after World War I in the city of Teplice, Czechoslovakia where he was very prosperous. However, after the ascendance of Hitler, he came to the Holy Land and two years ago, he passed away. Leml, the son of Getzel Landesman, settled in Vienna before World War I. Eta Hacker, the granddaughter of Shlomo Diamand from Zyznow and Gitel Tuchman, the daughter of Mendel Guzik, also lived in Vienna. All the evacuees from Strzyzow who came to Vienna returned home after the war. Rabbi Nechemiah Shapiro remained for some years in Vienna but return to Strzyzow in the early thirties. Reb Leib Eisenberg, Joseph Wolf and later, Yacov Diller came to Vienna after World War I. Also, Moshe Brauner went to Vienna and worked for Yacov Diller.

Yacov Diller escaped to the United States. Moshe Brauner's family perished. He was the only survivor. He came to Israel and later left for the United States where he worked again for Yacov Diller. However, he passed away a short time later. Eta Hacker also escaped to the United States where she died and her body was buried in Israel. The whereabouts of Leib Eisenberg is unknown. At this time, the following people live in Vienna with their families: Naphtali Eisenberg; Fishel Adler and his wife who are the grandchildren of the Assistant Rabbi from Strzyzow, and the above–mentioned Gitel Tuchman.

This brings us to the end of the memorial book of the Strzyzow Kehillah.

One of the goals that we strived to achieve was the perpetuation of the memory of the martyrs of our Kehillah. We are confident that this book will also be a family heirloom in every family that originated in Strzyzow, and future generations will read it and will be impressed to read about their ancestors, about the honest, faultless and gentle–spirited Jews that lived among gentiles and lost their lives in martyrdom. The reader will feel close to them and will also hand down this book to the next generation. And, when a book about the Polish Jewry will be written, we will have made a sizeable contribution and, thanks to our book, our Jewish shtetl whose memory is so dear to us will not be forgotten.

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To the conclusion of this book

by Shlomo Yahalomi

Upon the completion of this memorial book of Strzyzow, what can I say? Had we merited having Strzyzow and all other holy European communities remain intact, and we would have written a book about life in those communities, we would have been required to say the blessing: “Shechiyanu” at the completion of the book. However, to our great sorrow, when the reason for writing this book is the destruction and disappearance of our shtetl and the other holy communities, we were forbidden to say the blessing. But just as we are required to praise the Lord for the good, so are we required to praise Him for the bad, regardless of the great pain and sorrow in our hearts. Let us be thankful to G–d that we did survive to write the history of our town and its children.

It would be a violation of the truth if we would have claimed that we wrote everything that should have been written about our shtetl. However, G–d is our witness that we did everything possible not to abuse anyone, not the community and no individual. I hope that we fulfilled our obligation. If we failed, it was not our fault. It could be because we were not capable or because we did not have enough books and documents from the previous generations. We took it upon ourselves to do it because there was no one else to do it.

Although the purpose of writing this book was to describe the past on our shtetl and the perpetuation of her untainted martyrs, we also found it necessary to write about the present, about the survivors who live in Israel and other countries. For this benevolence, we are surely obligated to thank the Creator that he left a remnant of our shtetl. Those who survived the Holocaust are duty–bound and obligated to remember those who perished. The images of our ancestors should remain before our eyes and we should follow their brightness all of our lives and act and perform good deeds as they did so that our ancestors would not be ashamed of their grandchildren.

It is true that it is hard to reach their stature. Our sages said that if our forbearers were angels, we should be human. But, in any case, we are not allowed to distance ourselves too far from the ways of our parents. A person should always ask himself: “When will my deeds be equal to my parents' deeds?” Commented Rabbi Yacov from Sadigora that it means: “When will my deed reach the quality of my parents' deeds and not distance ourselves from them”. It is clear that we survived not so that we should, Heaven forbid, distance ourselves from our parents, but to continue the chain of previous generations; to secure the continuity of a nation which lives by the principles of justice and progress – true justice and progress – not spoken idly but the justice of our Prophets, teachers of all generations.

And if the subject is the future, we should realize that as a result of the Holocaust and the great destruction that befell our People, the centre of our existence moved to our Holy Land, the State of Israel, the

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source of our pride and hope. If truth be told, thanks to our yearnings of thousands of years that are expressed in our prayers three times daily, “May our eyes behold they return in mercy to Zion”, we preserved in our hearts and beings the love, longings and attachment to Zion. We created the Zionist Movement, the political and the practical return to Zion, the rebuilding of a big part of our historical Eretz Israel. It is also true that the biggest reason for the declaration and the recognition by all nations of the State of Israel was the great destruction and annihilation of our people by the murderous Nazi hands. Even the wicket amongst the world leaders were not able to ignore the mass destruction that befell the Jewish people in Europe, the savagery of it and therefore, were forced to agree to compensate the victims by voting for the establishment of the state of Israel.

True, the hand of Providence was involved. But it was done with miracles wrapped in natural appearance. The “Great Hand” of the Master of the Universe made it happen for the merits of the martyrs and the sacrifices of the fathers and children. By rebuilding the land and fighting for its independence, we lived to see the establishment of Israel which is the beginning of the complete Messianic Redemption.

Since the destruction of the Holy Temple, two tremendous events in Jewish history occurred in our times: the Holocaust and the Salvation. As much as the destruction was in colossal proportions and beyond anyone's imagination, so was the miraculous salvation beyond our expectations. The fact that the resolution of the United Nations to divide Palestine was passed by two–thirds of its members, and was accepted by the majority of the Zionist leaders, seemed entirely impossible to achieve. If the Arabs would have also agreed to this plan, we would not have been able to live and exist in our land. (The area being so small). They would have sabotaged us on every step. Our conquest of the Arabs in the wars and the many wonders and miracles has all exceeded our expectations and hopes. The Blessed Name has performed miracles and kindnesses for us at every step. The refusal by the Arabs to divide the country, their subsequent defeat, the hundreds of thousands fleeing in panic from the land, is surely a cause of praise to emanate from our mouths: “Were our mouths filled with song as the sea, and our tongue with ringing praise as the roaring waves… we would still be unable to thank the Lord our G–d”.

All that was written above could actually have been the finale of our book if… If this book would have been written before the Six–Day War. But something else happened. Great, wonderful, fearful occurrences took place. Great in their proportions, both qualitative and quantitative, greater even than the ones that we have already told here. It is fitting here to tell what Rashi told his grandson, the Rashbam. He confessed that if he would have had time, he would have written a brand new commentary on the Bible considering the things that happen daily. The kindness of G–d that surrounds us and the signs of Messianic Salvation which continue to appear before our eyes, demand from us to change from time–to–time the content of our writings because they become outdated. (For instance: the end of the article written by Ami Feingold in this book – “They were buried on Mount Olives and no one visits their graves

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because it is located on the other side of the border”. Now Mount Olives is liberated. More so, whatever happened in the Six–Day War overshadows everything that happened in the War of Independence. The early miracles are pale when compared to the later miracles. The windows in Heaven opened widely and we saw the revelation of Godliness in the holy war. Our generation will tell the next generation not only about the wonders and the miracles but also about the heroism and sacrifice for which there is no comparison in the entire world. The greatest wonder is, according to the testimony of the Chief of the victory, Itzhok Rabin, that the crown of victory belongs mainly to simple soldiers many of whom in their daily lives seem to be modest young men. In the Six–Day War they became lions and even stronger. And those who in peace–time were men of questionable character suddenly turned into idealists and gave their souls for the people and the homeland.

Should we not repeat the words of the Baal Shem Tov? “Happy are the people who know the joyful sound”. How good it is for a people that the ordinary soldier knows how to lead a war – not only the general!… That is what happened in the war for our independence. “Who bore these to us?” How did this happen? That children of persecuted and tormented Jews, pursued for thousands of years and who were a synonym of cowardice – how did these children become heroes and destroy so many better armed armies? Of course, everyone has an “explanation”. It was natural. But, a very important reason has to be added, and maybe this was the core? G–d the Almighty helped us. It was true that our children and brothers fought heroically. Everyone at his post with such incomparable devotion. However, the most powerful drive was the Holocaust. The Tragedy. And, because of the Holocaust, our children fought the way they did and because of the Holocaust, the Almighty helped us.

Let us have a clear understanding about what we said before: The great misfortune that happened in our generation – the vision of the annihilation of six million Jews in such a gruesome way – stood before the eyes of our soldiers – the heroes. Everyone saw before him the six million martyrs. They also saw what other nations, the bad and the “good” ones did for us. Steadfast was their determination. It will never happen again! No more Auschwitz! Not in our generation or in the future generations. No! We will not be led like sheep to the slaughter ever again. Jewish blood will not be cheap anymore! A high price will have to be paid for it. The free–killing of Jews has ended. We will fight the enemy and even if, Heaven forbid, a Jew will die, it will be expensive. That was the decision. No more abandonment. This has brought forth the heroic deeds of our soldiers – to achieve the astounding and absolute victory.

This was one aspect of the victory. The second aspect was that the Almighty too has decided that no more will his children be abandoned to savage beasts!… Even though we strive to understand and explain, the painful question which torments our brains is – why? Why did G–d do it? Why did G–d allow the slaughter of his people? And there is no answer that could make it clear to us. One thing is clear though and which nobody can deny – G–d gave us the victory in the war against the Arabs as partial compensation for the destruction of the house of Israel during Hitler's rule.

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It is also true that for the merits of the Holocaust and for the holy devotion of our children, we did merit such a tremendous victory. Miracle and nature walked hand–in–hand and brought us the salvation. And, I also want to point out that the biggest miracle was that we did not rely on miracles.

At the conclusion of this book, we would like to declare that G–d's kindness has not yet ended. It is not the end of the salvation and consolation that G–d has in store for us. Only the blind and the deaf are not able to see or hear that the voice of G–d is power, the voice of G–d is splendour. His strong hand will lead us to the complete redemption. It is worthwhile to recollect the story which is told about Rabbi Levi Itzhok from Berditchev, of blessed memory. Every year, after reciting the Lamentations on Tisha B'Av, he threw away the lamentation book to be buried in the cemetery among the unusable letters. He said: “Heaven forbid that we should need them next year. It would mean that we do not believe in the coming of the Messiah soon”. The writer of these lines would like to say the same thing. Until we will have this book bound and distributed to the people of Strzyzow, the Holy Messiah will arrive and we will merit the complete redemption in our days. Amen.

Tel–Aviv, the month of Nisan, the month of Redemption. 1968.

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Update on Strzyzow

This letter was sent to me, the translator of this book, by my childhood colleague, Mr. Ephraim Shpalter, the grandson of the Assistant Rabbi of Strzyzow.

Mr. Shpalter lives in Israel. He received the letter in April, 1987 from Mr. Adam Kluska in Strzyzow, in response to a letter that was written by Mr. Shpalter to the city authorities in Strzyzow.

From/ Adam Kluska
Strzyzow 38–100
29 Tolnove Street.

Revered Mr. Ephraim Shpalter, Israel.

Your letter addressed to the City Hall in Strzyzow was brought to my attention since I am Mayor of the City and also Secretary of the Fraternity of the City of Strzyzow.

I was glad to be able to fulfil, if only partially, the request from a past resident of Strzyzow. Enclosed you will find copies of photographs from 1930. A picture of the second grade elementary school; the school that you attended and a group picture from 1928 of the Jewish Community Leaders in Strzyzow with the Rabbi as well as a landmark view with the shul in it. I will also give some information concerning the Jewry of our city. I hope these pictures will serve as a modest souvenir to you since, as I understand it, you have none.

The information about the Jewry in Strzyzow is as follows: The shuls in Strzyzow, Czudec and Niebylec (Czudec and Niebylec were nearby communities) have remained intact as a perpetuation of Jewish culture, despite the storms of the war. We remodelled them and made some interior changes and they now serve as libraries. In the shul of Niebylec, the whole interior was remodelled and it looks very nice. The shul in Strzyzow was also remodelled and the painting of the “Leviathan” on the ceiling above the bimah was completely restored. It is now serving as a rich library with which we pride ourselves. However, the shul in Frysztak was destroyed by the Germans at the beginning of the occupation. At that time, the Germans tormented the Jews in different ways. They beat them, killed them for the smallest infraction, shot at them, robbed everything they owned and restricted their movements. The Germans forced the Jews to do hard, physical labour and the Jews were required to wear the start of David on their clothes. If not, they were threatened with death.

In the winter of 1942, the occupation authorities in Rezszow demanded that the Jews hand over all furs and warm clothing which they needed for their soldiers on the Eastern front. That is how the Jews became abandoned and unprotected by any law. Their destiny was in German hands.

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In the days of June 24, 25 and 26, 1942 the Germans expelled 1355 Jews to the Rzeszow ghetto and from there, they were transferred to the annihilation camp in Belzec. At the same time, the Jews from nearby towns of Czudec and Niebylec were also expelled.

In the summer of 1942, the Jews from Frysztak and Wisznowa were brought to the forest near Jaslo and killed by the Nazi. A monument in their memory was erected at that place.

Poles hiding a Jew were threatened with a death sentence. In spite of that fact and thanks to the help of a few Polish families, a few Jewish individuals were rescued and left Strzyzow after the war.

The Investigation Commission of War Crimes and collaboration with the Germans took testimony from witnesses on the dreadful deeds of these criminals but the results of the investigation and the destiny of the criminals are unknown.

The dreadful and brutal actions of those individuals linger in our memories to this day and we cannot reconcile with the thoughts that such people will not be apprehended and punished.

In 1967, a Fraternity Society and a museum were established in Strzyzow. The memorabilia which we gathered is still in storage until the building to house the museum will be completed. It will take a few more years. The location of the museum will be in the centre of town. In this museum there is also a small Jewish section which contains several pictures and holy books. In reality, there is not much left. A few Jewish gravestones remained in the last Jewish cemetery on Mount Zarnowo where there now exists a settlement. There is a park with a monument and nearby is a pile of remnants of gravestones that were used by the Germans to pave the market–place and were removed after the war. But the cemetery is not enclosed. Lately, some Rabbi from New York and the Editor of the “Folks Shtimme” in Warsaw, who is also the presiding officer of the Jews in Poland, has shown an interest in the cemetery. And so, I am concluding my short information. I would like to point out that I am very happy to be able to help out by sharing the details which are known to me about the Jews of Strzyzow. Please confirm receipt of this letter and the pictures. I wish you health and the best.

With reverence,
Adam Kluska

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A memorial to Chudnov,
in the district of Zitomir, U.S.S.R.

by Harry Langsam

At the conclusion of translating this memorial book of the martyrs of Strzyzow, I had an inner feeling that something was not complete.

In my wanderings during the Holocaust years throughout the wastelands of Russia, I was fortunate enough to have met my life–long companion and together we succeeded in raising a traditional Jewish family, despite the Nazi savages who had planned to solve the “Jewish Problem” forever.

My wife, Anna Langsam, née Muravina, is of Russian Jewish parentage. Her parents were mercilessly murdered by the Nazi with the help of Ukrainian collaborators and I was never fortunate enough to have met them. The claws of the Nazi hordes reached the Jews who lived in all the shtetls of the Ukraine. Therefore, it is incumbent upon me to commemorate the martyrs of the towns in general and, in particular, the shtetl of Chudnov – the birthplace of my wife.

Soon after the Nazi occupied Chudnov, at the end of July, 1942 they ordered all the older Jewish people to report to the Firemen's Club and to bring all their belongings and valuables with them. They were kept there for three days without food and water. On the third day, they took the victims to a grove outside of town where freshly dug graves awaited them. On this day, the Nazi killed all the older population of the town including the parents of my wife. The young people who had remained in town were used for hard labour until September 22 which was Yom Kippur and on that day, the Nazi killed the rest of the Chudnov Jewish population. Small children and babies were thrown in a well alive! Among the victims who were killed on that day was my wife's sister with her family. G–d! Avenge their innocent blood.

In the following lines, I will commemorate the few victims whose names are known to me: My father–in–law, Zelig Muravin, the son of Leib who is remembered by his daughter as a devoted Jew who donned his tallit and tefilin daily as late as the early thirties, when religious practice was already forbidden.

My mother–in–law, Fruma, a hard–working woman and a devoted mother to her children.

Their oldest daughter, Esther, her husband Joseph and their children Itzhok, Sonia and Chaim.

Their second daughter Sheindl, a teacher with her husband and child.

My wife's aunt Eidl, her daughter Sheindl, her son–in–law Aaron Roitman and grandson Wolf who was an officer in the Soviet Navy and fell in battle against the enemy.

Last but not least, my brother–in–law Joel Muravin who heroically gave his life fighting the fascist enemy. At the outbreak of the Soviet–German War in 1941, he was badly wounded. After being released from hospital, he joined his two sisters, my wife and her older sister Rachel, who by that time were forced to evacuate from their home in Kiev to the Caucasian Mountains. Being a semi–invalid, Joel could easily have

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Remained with his sisters and continued with them on their journey to Siberia, their final destination. However, he insisted on re–enlisting in the Red Army: “to take revenge for the murder of his parents. As a Jew that is where he belongs”. This in spite of the painful anti–Semitic encounter that occurred on the front line when he was injured in battle. While he was lying on the field, losing his blood, a group of Red Army soldiers were resting nearby. One soldier told his comrades that he sees a wounded soldier nearby. Another soldier responded: “Leave him alone, he is a Jew”. This was within earshot of the wounded Joel Muravin, my brother–in–law.

Luckily he was picked up by someone else and not left to die.

In conclusion, I would like to remember my second brother–in–law, Moshe Portnoi who died in the prime of his life, after going through the travails of the horrible war. His heart finally gave up. He came home with several awards and medals for heroism on the battle field.

“May G–d remember the souls of the saintly martyrs who gave their lives for the loyalty to their nation”. (From the Yizkor prayer).

The above–mentioned information about how the Jews from Chudnov were killed was obtained from a witness, a Jewish woman who survived the massacre. Mrs. Bludaya, the only woman survivor was not hit by a bullet; she just fell into the ditch and remained there until dark. She was later hidden by a gentile woman until liberation.


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